A broken collarbone is a common injury, particularly in children and young adults. Your collarbone connects the upper part of your breastbone to your shoulder blade. Common causes of a broken collarbone include falls, sports injuries and trauma from traffic accidents. Infants can sometimes experience a broken collarbone during the birth process.
If you think you or your child has a broken collarbone, seek prompt medical attention. Most broken collarbones heal well with ice, pain relievers, a sling, physical therapy and time. But a complicated broken collarbone may require surgery to realign the broken bone and to implant plates, screws or rods into the bone to maintain proper alignment during healing.
The collarbone connects the breastbone to the shoulder blade. A broken collarbone is a common injury that causes pain and swelling at the site of the fracture. ...
Signs and symptoms of a broken collarbone include:
When to see a doctor
Common causes of a broken collarbone include:
Your collarbone doesn't harden completely until about age 20. This puts children and teenagers at higher risk of a broken collarbone. The risk decreases after age 20, but then rises again in older people as bone strength decreases with age.
Most broken collarbones heal without difficulty. But complications may include:
Preparing for your appointment
Depending on the severity of the break, your family doctor or the emergency room physician may recommend that you or your child be examined by an orthopedic surgeon.
What you can do
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
During the physical exam, your doctor will inspect the affected area for tenderness, swelling, deformity or an open wound. X-rays are taken to determine the extent of a broken collarbone, pinpoint its exact location and determine if there's injury to the joints. Occasionally, your doctor may also recommend a computerized tomography (CT) scan to obtain more-detailed images.
Treatments and drugs
Restricting the movement of any broken bone is critical to healing. To immobilize a broken collarbone, you'll likely need to wear an arm sling.
The length of time immobilization is needed depends on the severity of the injury. Union of the bone usually takes three to six weeks for children and six to 12 weeks for adults. If a baby has suffered a broken collarbone during labor and delivery, healing typically occurs without specific treatment. Pain control and careful handling of the baby are usually all that's needed.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Applying ice to the affected area during the first two to three days after a collarbone break can help control pain and swelling.
Last Updated: 2012-12-06
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